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Tie-Breaking Vote Sends Employment Discrimination Bill Forward

Anne Marie Morgan

Public employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity would be prohibited under legislation that has passed the Virginia Senate.  The bill inserts a policy into state law that has been adopted through executive order by Governor McAuliffe and several other gubernatorial 

  administrations. The commonwealth’s Lieutenant Governor played a key role in the legislation’s passage.

Senator Barbara Favola argued that steps to prohibit workforce discrimination are needed.

“Gay men earn 10 percent to 32 percent less than similarly qualified heterosexual males. Older gay and lesbian adults experience higher poverty rates than their heterosexual counterparts. And transgender individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed.”

When one spoke against the bill, the Senate voted, and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam cast the tie-breaker.

“Ayes 19, Noes 19.  The chair votes ‘Yes.’ The bill passes.”

The bill also codifies the ban on state and local government job discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran.

The Senate also passed a bill to revise the references to gender-specific terms in state law.  Senators then approved a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but then reconsidered and postponed their vote on its final passage until today.

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